Encountering Pushback, Tyranny Retreats

 on February 28, 2014

Recently we have seen people in Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand rise up courageously against their rulers, even as we watch our own liberties crumble under relentless assault by a president with open contempt for the rule of law.

Have we lost the character that inspired our forefathers to found a country committed to liberty? Or are we just very slow to anger?

Writing in USA Today, Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. the Instapundit) offers evidence that it is the latter — and that our ever-encroaching government knows it:

“First, in response to widespread protests last week, the Department of Homeland Security canceled plans to build a nationwide license plate database.”

“The DHS put out a bid request for a system that would have gone national, letting the federal government track millions of people’s comings and goings just as it tracks data about every phone call we make. But the proposal was suddenly withdrawn last week, with the unconvincing explanation that it was all a mistake.”

“I’m inclined to agree with TechDirt’s Tim Cushing, who wrote: “The most plausible explanation is that someone up top at the DHS or ICE suddenly realized that publicly calling for bids on a nationwide surveillance system while nationwide surveillance systems are being hotly debated was … a horrible idea.”

That is, even our alarmingly arrogant federal government acknowledged that we can only be pushed so far before the worm begins to turn.

Whether he is a patriot or a traitor, Edward Snowden opened our eyes to the nature of the NSA by revealing its extensive spying on the American population.

It has been compiling massive amounts of data on most if not all of us — including members of Congress — in obvious violation of the Fourth Amendment. The NSA shares information gathered from our emails, text messages, and phone calls with the White House and with foreign nations.

Our own government suggests that the NSA may have used its “offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”

Obama arrogantly made a mockery of the investigation into the NSA’s abuses by appointing his conspicuously clueless lapdog James Clapper (who had already been caught lying to Congress, which is a felony) to head it.

All things considered, the NSA envelope has been pushed about as far as it can go without someone pushing back. Thus the car-tracking scheme was nixed.

Reynolds gives another example:

“On Friday, after more public outrage, the Federal Communications Commission withdrew a plan to “monitor” news coverage at not only broadcast stations, but also at print publications that the FCC has no authority to regulate. The “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN (pronounced “sin”) involved the FCC sending people to question reporters and editors about why they chose to run particular stories.”

In addition to putting journalists on the hot seat regarding their choice of stories, CIN would help insure that media outlets meet “critical information needs,” which could easily be translated to mean disseminating government propaganda on issues like global warming.

FCC enforcers would also monitor “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” In practical terms, “underserved populations” means “special interest groups favored by the government.”

It only matters that a particular group is “underserved” (i.e., its point of view is not satisfactorily represented) if the government deems it to be a problem. No one in the media will get in trouble for their lack of “responsiveness” to conservative Christians.

Information outlets were to be grilled by government agents on their “news philosophy,” and asked to detail their plans for disseminating official propaganda… sorry, I meant “critical information.”

Statist outlets would have no trouble explaining their news philosophy to the satisfaction of bureaucrats. For conservative or libertarian sources, it could be more problematic.

That could be why the two central pillars of the liberal media establishment — the Associated Press and the New York Times — ignored this blockbuster story.

This being a soft tyranny for now, CIN was supposedly voluntary. However, when the people in charge of renewing your license ask you to volunteer, there are obvious implications.

Even without CIN, Obama has sunk the erstwhile Land of the Free to 46th place in the ranking of freedom of the press by Reporters Without Borders. CIN would drag us down still further.

The Obama Administration did not back off on this because it suddenly came to appreciate the value of unbiased journalism. The reaction CIN evoked convinced the White House that we would put up a fight.

Reynolds continues:

“Meanwhile, in Connecticut a massive new gun-registration scheme is also facing civil disobedience.

As J.D. Tuccille reports: “Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature estimated there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as ‘assault weapons,’ and 2 million plus high-capacity magazines. … But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for ‘assault weapon’ registrations, and 38,000 applications for magazines.”

When only a small minority complies with a law, that law is tyrannical. It can only be enforced by inflicting brutal measures on large numbers of normal, productive citizens. The liberal media would have no problem with this:

“The Hartford (Conn.) Courant is demanding that the state use background-check records to prosecute those who haven’t registered, but the state doesn’t have the resources, and it’s doubtful juries would convict ordinary, law-abiding people for failure to file some paperwork.”

After a maniac went berserk at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, hopes were high among authoritarians in the media and government that the tragedy could be exploited to disarm us — a task they set about with unseemly alacrity.

But due to public resistance, they were able to do very little at the national level. Tyrannical state governments had better luck, most alarmingly in New York. But as seen here, Connecticut citizens are pushing back. In Colorado, two State Senators were actually recalled from office due to their opportunistic post–Sandy Hook attack on gun rights.

For all the hoopla, Occupy Wall Street was a farce, consisting of spoilt adolescents with prosperous parents striking a trendy pose by hanging out in squalid encampments with degenerate losers.

That this supposed revolt against the capitalist system was openly supported by the government, the media, and the ultra-rich — i.e., by the establishment — proves that it was a total sham, no more rebellious than a student licking his liberal professor’s hand by sanctimoniously denouncing the iniquity of the Religious Right.

Real rebellion will not feature useless posers with too much time on their hands. A real rebellion will come when the hardworking, law-abiding, decent people who make up the spine of the country become fed up watching their precious liberties relentlessly attacked by an elite that despises them and everything the country was meant to stand for. It does not need to entail blood in the streets or a forceful seizure of power, but only a principled determination to replace rulers with leaders, and to pass down to the next generation at least as much freedom as was passed down to us.

Despite the promised “fundamental transformation,” we are still Americans, and we are still capable of defending our liberties, so long as we choose to risk comfort and safety as required. The government knows this or it would not back down when challenged.

But every retreat on the part of tyranny is temporary. The NSA will track every car, the FCC will shape every broadcast, and the federal government will first register then confiscate every privately owned firearm as it soon as it becomes clear that enough of us would opt for the cowardly comfort of passivity rather than pay the price to be free.